There were no surprises when Khalil Mack and Cordarrelle Patterson were named to the Pro Bowl. And while there was obvious disappointment that Allen Robinson II didn’t get the call, breaking through a loaded crop of receivers is never easy. So even though Robinson certainly merited consideration and was an obvious snub, it’s easier to compartmentalize why he didn’t get the nod. HOWEVA, I’m having a real problem coming to grips with Roquan Smith’s snub.
This. Dude. Is. Balling.
Smith has 128 total tackles (89 solo!), 4 sacks, 6 quarterback hits, and a whopping 17 tackles-for-loss in 14 games this season. Looking at those traditional numbers makes me wonder how he couldn’t slide into a spot in the first place. Some of his advanced analytics are alright. PFF has Smith as the seventh-highest graded linebacker in coverage. Additionally, his pass-rushing grade is in the top 25 among players at his position. What gives, people?
To be clear, I’m not taking away from Bobby Wagner and Fred Warner. Those are two excellent inside linebackers. But check out the comparison here:
The NFC Pro Bowl inside linebackers are Bobby Wagner and Fred Warner.
Here’s how they stack up statistically with Bears ILB Roquan Smith
(Warner does have 2 INTs) pic.twitter.com/aNgeEDAhVI
— Kevin Fishbain (@kfishbain) December 22, 2020
Smith is in the midst of a breakout season in a year in which his role on the defense has become more important. Generally, an up-tick in responsibility coinciding with much-improved play tends to yield a Pro Bowl invite. Instead, Smith’s snub keeps him on the sidelines despite a worthy season.
And to add more frustration to the situation, the snub could ultimately turn out to be a costly one. As Nick Korte of OverTheCap.com points out, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s tweak in the fifth-year option gives Pro Bowl selection additional importance. The fifth-year option on a rookie deal essentially turns into the Transition Tag for players who make the Pro Bowl at least once during their first three seasons. In other words, Smith’s snub keeps him from getting a potential raise of $2,997,000. Talk about a double-whammy.
If there’s any consolation, Smith’s performance in 2020 should make the Bears’ decision to pick up the fifth-year option on his rookie deal an easy one. Perhaps Chicago’s front office could smooth things over with an extension when he is eligible? Hey, don’t rule it out!